President Obama did what he had to do on November 7, apologizing for people not being able to keep their health coverage despite repeated assurances that “if you like the coverage you have now, you can keep it.” Apparently he assumed that you didn’t like your coverage? The Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff posited just that.
“What Obama isn’t offering is an apology for the cancellation notices themselves. Eliminating certain health plans from the market — ones that the White House thinks are too skimpy — is a feature, not a bug, of the Affordable Care Act,” writes Kliff. As evidence, she points to Obama’s own explanation that individual market plans often provided substandard coverage, exacted double-digit premium increase rates year-over-year and then promptly got canceled when enrollees used them for a major medical event.
Then there’s Deborah Cavallaro, who on CNBC expressed how outraged she was by her individual plan’s cancellation and demanded “please explain to me how my plan is substandard when I’d be paying more for the exhange plans…by a wide margin.” In this case, the L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik did. He found fault with a broker offering a more expensive plan even though California’s exchange offered both Silver and Bronze options with better coverage and lower overall cost.
Details like deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket limits seem to elude people when they’re faced with a premium quote, and they can often be considered nuances in the swirl of media and politics. But if there’s ever been a top-ten list of items where the details matter, health insurance would surely make the top three. Simplifying messages and Obamacare turmoil may be attention-getting in the short-term, but once the shouting is over the hard work still remains of making the most of what the Affordable Care Act offers and creating a coverage environment that works.
UPDATE: Exactly one week after his televised apology President Obama did what he had to do again. Calling coverage cancellations a “fumble” and saying “that’s on me,” his Administration is creating the opportunity for those policies to continue for another year. Our advice? There are more than 110 plans in metro Phoenix to choose from, so be an informed buyer. Shop around first, including connecting with the Marketplace – by phone, by paper, via in-person assistance, or online. You may have to do some diligent analysis, and you’re encouraged to make use of all of the free help that is available. As Michael Hiltzik found with Deborah Cavallaro, a better plan for less overall cost may await.